Responding to demand to grow the game in one of the globe’s burgeoning golf markets, Nicklaus Design, the world’s leading course design firm, has appointed Evolution Golf as its design representatives for India. Led by Shivas Nath, a former player turned golf entrepreneur, Evolution Golf will also work to grow the Nicklaus brand and business throughout the world’s second-most populous nation.
Nicklaus Design opened its first course in India in 1998, with the unveiling of Classic Golf Resort in New Delhi, which has played host to a number of Asian Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) events. Currently, Nicklaus Design has projects under development in Ahmedabad and Ludhiana, with a number of prospects spread across India, as Nicklaus Design continues to expand its presence in the Asia Pacific Region. Estimates have indicated there are approximately 500,000 golfers among India’s 1.17 billion people, and the number is forecasted to grow at an annual rate of up to 30 percent for the next few years. In addition, more than 30 percent of the country’s estimated 250 courses have opened in the last five years. Through this collaborative effort with Evolution Golf and Nath, Nicklaus Design is positioning itself as the industry leader in India and will help guide quality golf development throughout the country.
After conquering China and saturating the rest of the Asian market with Nicklaus courses, the aim clearly is to do the same in India. Hopefully a nation with a strong golfing heritage will not go down the same path as others in the region, and revert to ‘signature’ over substantive design. There is obviously a place for firms like Nicklaus Design in any market, but the last thing India needs is a golf boom, like in China, that yields nothing but formulaic, expensive ‘signature’ golf courses. It will be interesting to see how successful Nath will be in the new venture, and to continue to follow this burgeoning golf market.